What is literacy for Mummy?

Teaching the FUNCTION of literacy is a great place to start with young ones.  Learning the letters is not anywhere on Master2’s radar but he IS very excited to help ‘write his name’ on his banana for daycare.

In his eyes, he IS writing his name!

In his eyes, he IS writing his name!

Can you involve your child in pretending to do this or ‘writing’ a shopping list or even drawing about their day?
This is all what’s called emergent literacy.  Stay tuned for a post on this soon

Let the children show you how yoga is done!

IMG_8950[1]

Despite being more of a physical exercise for adults, yoga for children possibly has more benefits for their brain and mind.  Let’s first look at the benefits of introducing yoga to your little ones.  What’s in it for them?

No age is too young to start!

No age is too young to start!

Yoga connects the body, mind and spirit.  Children are very in touch with their intuition at a young age however, our early education system promotes a focus on the child’s ‘mental body’.  Children are prompted to learn literacy and numeracy from a young age.  Shifting their attention to these cognitive tasks, draws attention away from important right brain development which is responsible for creativity and imagination.  It is also the reason that many of us as adults have lost our ability to use our intuition, creative skills and the ability to just ‘feel’.  Yoga helps children to access their ‘spiritual body’, to be creative, to use their ‘gut instinct’ and their senses, by paying attention to their breathing, body and surrounding environment.

yoga's finished...time to listen to the sounds around us

yoga’s finished…time to listen to the sounds around us

Yoga promotes increased focus and attention.  It provides your child with a useful toolkit of self-calming strategies, particularly teaching how to breathe and relax.  It is also a useful strategy to promote mindfulness.  See more about mindfulness here.

Yoga teaches your child about body awareness.  Brain development occurs very quickly when a child has to work out where their body is in space.  How do they move their body to get into THAT pose?  And from cobra pose on their tummy, to downward dog on their hands and feet, to baby pose on their back?  Body awareness is also developed when talking about the different body parts and explaining where to put each.  This might be ‘put your hand down next to your foot’ or ‘now turn your shoulder up to the sky’.

my feet where? hands where?

my feet where? hands where?

Yoga promotes respecting the environment, and others.  Yoga is done cooperatively together, not competing against other children.  It is ideally performed outside where children can take notice of the environment (the wind, the trees, the wildlife, the weather), whilst they are doing yoga.

IMG_8961[1]

And of course strength and balance comes with yoga.  Kids are just maintaining flexibility!

So what happens in Kid’s Yoga?

First things first, you’ll need to keep your child’s attention, so it must be FUN.  Kid’s Yoga not only means body poses, but also learning about breathing, body awareness and their surroundings.  Giselle Shardlow has created enticing Kids Yoga Stories to motivate children to practice yoga.*

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

ooh they saw a ‘monkey’!

 

Being like a tree... and not thinking about it too much!

Being like a tree… and not thinking about it too much!

They feature adventure-style stories which feature a character who not only cares for the environment but also stops to do a yoga pose or two on each page of the story.  This gives children something visual to go by but also a theme to help them visualise the pose they are attempting.  So when your child goes on a jungle adventure, they might end up doing ‘cat’ pose for a jaguar or if they went on a beach trip, they would end up doing ‘warrior’ pose for ‘surfing’.

Being a butterfly in the jungle

Being a butterfly in the jungle

This is how Kids Yoga sessions compare with an adult’s session.

1. Set up – yes a yoga towel or mat + a drink bottle is still ideal.  A Kids Yoga Story really does hold their attention however you could certainly attempt your own stories once you are familiar with some of the poses.  Or go online for some inspiration too.  We love to do yoga outdoors so we can be with nature and notice the environment with all of our senses, but inside is good if the weather isn’t great!

'Sailing' at the 'beach'... with Master 2 spectator

‘Sailing’ at the ‘beach’… with Master 2 spectator

2. Music – no, you don’t have to stick with any particular type of music.  Whatever gets your children inspired in the theme is a great choice.  But do think outside the box.  The Wiggles Beach Party songs might be a first pick, but could also be distracting.  The Beach Boys is a different alternative.  You could even create a playlist of all of the songs that relate to say ‘the jungle’.  Or you could just put on ‘rainforest’ songs or classical music.  OR you could just go with the sounds around you.

3. Preparation – not so much on body and breathing, but of the story and theme.  Taking the time to discuss what you might expect to see on your adventure gets children into the theme even more so and excited to look at the book.  Don’t forget to remind your children about their surroundings and to use their senses.

4. Structure – this one does go out the window with kids! But the great thing is, sometimes the children will show you how they like their yoga sessions to flow.  And as long as they are still enjoying yoga and receiving any of the benefits listed above, you can let go of following the story exactly or doing the pose so precisely.  Let your children show you how kid’s yoga is done!

Fun wins over precision

Fun wins over precision

5. Taking time – there is no rush with kid’s yoga.  If the kids stop to go and grab a stick for a prop or if they decide they would like to enjoy their rest and watch the clouds for longer at the end, that is what happens.  As long as you are enthusiastic and accepting of their ideas, they will run the session in their own way!

taking the time on his own..

taking the time on his own..

6. Post-yoga activities – the list is endless of what you could carry onto.  Morning tea on the towels noticing the trees or clouds or birds is a great way to stay ‘mindful’ and relaxed.  Other activities could be continuing the yoga theme (such as ‘the beach’) and exercising the right brain with some painting, drawing or playdough modelling.  Make use of the towels in summer and let the kids have fun blowing bubbles in cups with straws until their hearts are content!  Blowing involves breathing and the diaphragm which promotes further relaxation.  Alternatively, you could think about a theme for the next yoga session.

For those interested in one of the Kids Yoga Stories to get them started, here is the website http://www.kidsyogastories.com/.

Otherwise, take a towel outside and see what moves your children might come up with!  You might be surprised as to how much they enjoy it  🙂 Heidi

* This is not a paid presentation but an endorsement of a really great set of books 🙂

What does address mean?

[Milestone] Whilst it is AVERAGE for a child to know their address (street number & name) by 5 years of age, why not try a few of these exercises much earlier:
– when learning numbers, go & point out the number on your letterbox
– contrast with other neighbours’ letterboxes or comment at friends’ places
– do drawings of your house & mark the number at the front
– define what a ‘street’ or ‘road’ is – where cars drive, the gutters etc
– when driving the last few streets to your home start naming each street & emphasise the name of yours
– go for a walk and really get to know your street (& mention the name)
– draw a map to your house and talk about the street name
– you could even define suburbs as ‘areas’ & mention when you leave yours or which suburb regular activities are in, such as swimming or the shops

2013 review…Reading a book to your child

And the next most-clicked on post for 2013 is, ‘So you think you know how to read a book to your child….? [birth to 12 months]‘.  If you need some inspiration for reading to your little one, take a look (and check under the ‘literacy’ file to find posts for reading to toddlers and the older kids).

Visit us at Facebook or now Google+ 🙂

Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Learning to spell..with my mouth??

So it’s time to learn to sound out words for spelling.  At first, it can be quite a daunting task for a little one.

Here is one trick I have found that helps with little children, or older kids who are having trouble sounding words out… It sounds complicated but give it a go.  Just having something tangible for them to focus on can really help.

First things first, go back a step.  Talk about how different sounds make up words and give your child examples.  At book reading time, you might point at a word and say ‘that says ‘cat’ – it is made up of the sounds ‘c-a-t’, ‘ca…t”.  At another time, you might sit with your child and go through each sound of the alphabet.  Or maybe just a few common sounds at first.

‘Study’ each sound and feel it in your mouth.  You might say to your child ‘let’s see which parts of our mouth make this sound’.  Have you ever stopped to think yourself?

– /m/, /b/, /p/, /w/ are made with our lips

– /k/, /g/ are made with the back of our tongue

– /n/, /t/, /d/, /l/, /r/, /s/, /z/ are made with the front of our tongue

– /f/, /th/, /v/, /ch/, /j/ are made with our lips and tongue

(the vowel sounds have nothing really getting in the way, it’s just our jaw height and tongue tension)

So now when your child starts to attempt to work out the last sound in a word, you can say ‘say the word and catch that last sound in your mouth, which parts of your mouth were moving?’.  Put the emphasis on ‘catch’ and make it sound like a fun thing to do.  Your child will then hopefully be able to say ‘caaaaaa..t’.  And you’ll encourage them to ‘catch that last sound!’ and identify which it was.  They will hopefully say ‘I could feel my tongue with /t/!’.  Or it might be working out the first sound.  Again, encourage them to slowly say the word and catch the first sound.  They will hopefully say ‘c….a’ and you might need to say ‘catch the first sound’.  And hopefully they will say ‘c, c’ – no need to identify what made the sound if they already identified it!

Sometimes just having taken the time to ‘study’ the sounds, children feel a little bit more confident and aware of what they are doing.  Knowledge is power!!

Come and find us at Facebook too – I raise my kids!

Literacy starts here..

[Birth+] A few benefits of baby books:
– clear pictures to keep your little one watching
– makes you talk in simpler language, which helps your child to understand and learn new words
– for 12mths + kids, extend the vocab (eg watermelon-seeds-red, juice-drink-cup, sheep-wool-tail)
– introduces early literacy skills such as left to right, turning pages, listening to words, pointing to pictures
– pages are easy to turn – keep your baby’s attention by bending the book back slightly so the next page pops open, say ‘turn the page’ and show their hand the action of turning
– older kids can even practice ‘reading’ the words to younger siblings

let's start from the very beginning

let’s start from the very beginning

ABC Reading Eggs – website/app review

[3 years +]  Are you keen for your child to look forward to literacy learning experiences?  Are they ready to learn before they start school?  Could they do with some help now that they have started school?  Do they have learning difficulties or autism?  Are you looking for fun and educational apps and games for your child?

ABC Reading Eggs is definitely a great place to discover!

image courtesy of daily telegraph

image courtesy of daily telegraph

What is it?

ABC Reading Eggs is a website and iPad app that is dedicated to teaching children literacy through fun, interactive games and based on research in developing literacy skills.  It was developed by experienced teachers, writers, animators and web developers, and you can tell!  It teaches phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and will have your child hooked to learning about sounds and words before you know it.  Just give it a go by checking out a sample lesson or taking a free trial.

The best thing I have found is the simple things that get your child hooked.  The fun games like spinning a wheel or popping bubbles, the funny and enticing characters that have your child working so hard just to hear them sing and the idea of getting to new eggs and seeing what will happen.  Each lesson ends in a story involving the sounds, words and characters they have just interacted with.  After your child has earned so many eggs, they then get access to play games with these.  We haven’t even gone to the game section as the lessons are enticing enough for Master 3.

Reading Eggs also sells Reading Eggs readers that we have found at our local library.  These match exactly what your child has learnt in the lessons which make it hard for your child not to be able to read successfully once they have done the lesson once (or more – they can be repeated as many times as needed).

Reading Eggs is available on the web and also on iPads.  You can get a mini-version on iphone app which is related games but certainly not whole program.

Who is it for? 

Reading Eggs is designed for children from three years of age with no literacy experience and will take them through until a grade 2 reading level.  Children with or without difficulties learning to read will benefit.  As long as your child knows how to work the mouse and arrow keys, they can be guided through it independently, but the games and characters really get you hooked in as well!  A simple test can tell you where your child should start, if you are unsure.

How much does it cost? 

It doesn’t sound cheap, but after you have taken a free trial, you will see how amazing this website is.  A year’s subscription costs $79.95.  There are other options including packs with books and access to only so many levels.  We were lucky enough to hear about a free 5 week trial and then got offered a discount to join after that.

So, if you can fathom at least checking out the sample lessons or taking a free trial, you can judge if it would be worth it for your child.  Of course, there are the simple ways to learn literacy, by first focussing on phonological awareness and exposure to books.  (link to post).

List of books for children aged 4-7!!

Here is a compilation of books that are great for children aged between 4-7. Younger readers will love them as well and of course older ones love them too.

This is a great starting place for birthday presents 🙂

 

Books for Children Ages 4-7 (the following titles are suitable to be read to younger readers or can be read by beginning readers)

 

‘A.B. Paterson’s Mulga Bill’s Bicycle’ by Kilmeny & Deborah Niland

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

Animalia by Graeme Base

Aranea: A Story About a Spider by Jenny Wagner

Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman

‘Arthur’ series by Marc Tolon Brown

Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault

Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet

Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Conner

Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl

Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss

Granpa by John Burningham

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

Hubert’s Hair-raising Adventure by Bill Peet

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

In My Back Yard by Nette Hilton & Anne Spudvilas

Irving the Magician by Tohby Riddle

John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Lester and Clyde by James Reece

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

‘My Hiroshima’ by Junko Morimoto

No Kiss for Mother by Tomi Ungerer

‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss

Petunia by Roger Duvoisin

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year of Colors, by Joyce Sidman

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola

Sunshine by Jan Ormerod

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola

The Banana Bird and the Snake Men by Percy Trezise and Dick Roughsey

The Bears’ ABC Book by Robin & Jocelyn Wild

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

‘The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne

The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

The Fisherman and the Theefyspray by Jane Tanner

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet & Allen Ahlberg

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch by Ronda & David Armitage

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The Rainbow Serpent by Dick Roughsey

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ by Jon Scieszka

‘The Story of Shy the Platypus’ by Leslie Rees

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Tough Boris by Mem Fox

What Made Tiddalik Laugh by Joanna Troughton

Wheel on the Chimney by Margaret Wise Brown

Where’s Julius by John Burningham

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker

‘Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein’ by Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Whistle Up the Chimney by Nan Hunt

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

 

SOUND it out!

[2 years +]

Most children learn the names of the letters before the sounds that they make.  But is it really that helpful to know the names of letters when learning to read and write?

As a speech pathologist, my role in literacy is to promote pre-literacy skills such as book reading and churning out nursery rhymes but also ‘phonological awareness’, being aware of sounds in words.  Research shows any child with good phonological awareness skills entering school will succeed in learning to read and write.  But this has nothing to do with the names of letters!

When you think about it, knowing the names of the letters doesn’t get you much further than being able to spell out a word aloud to someone else (You spell it ‘A-I-M-E-E’).  This is definitely useful down the track, but not at the start of literacy learning.

What do you need to know to:

  • Sound out words (reading) : A child needs to be able to decode each letter into a sound (eg. ‘hot’ – h= ‘hh’, o=’oh’, t=’tt’) and then put those sounds together and say them into a word.  It’s not simple and the child needs to be good at decoding the letters into sounds and putting sounds together to make a word (either aloud or in their head)
  • Spell a word (writing it down) : Break the word into sounds in their head and translate each to a letter, before writing them (as above. ‘hot’ – ‘hh’=h, ‘oh’=o, ‘tt’=t).  This is not simple either!!!

But one skill you don’t need, is to know the names of the letters…  If you only know the names of the letters, you can only say ‘H-O-T’ when looking at the word, which gets you no closer to decoding what the word actually says.

A teacher I once knew actually only ever talked about the sounds of the letters in the first year of school and then introduced the names of the letters in the second year.  In the real world, most children will learn the names of the letters by osmosis anyway, but it can be helpful to put more of a focus onto the sound each letter makes.  This is particularly so for any child that seems as though they might find literacy a challenge, as learning the name and sound of a letter is just more memorising for them that puts extra load on the brain when it comes time to read and spell.

🙂 Come and ‘like’ us on Facebook to catch all the extra posts we do there 🙂